Thursday, December 27, 2012

Desires of a life long lost

It is the same feeling of the past,
I think
At this shiver which arose
As if a blooming rose
In the cold winter wind
That which I thought was a childish kink
Seems to be a crucial link
To understand what I want, my desires
I smile to myself, my cries
Of warning myself I ignore, feeling
That melting moment
When my lips touched yours quivering and surrendering
To the passion within...
Within that moment
Are the desires of a life long lost......

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Bald Decision!

Its been about two weeks since it happened.... Just got up one day and decided yes it was the right to do this... Its now or never!! I have been told that I am indecisive, confused etc etc time and again at different points of my life but there is one thing which I know and people who really understand me know. That once I decide something then I would do it, go through the full circle... Not always to my advantage but anyway..

So then I got it done... Shaved off all my hair!! Yup, finally gathered enough courage to do it. It was funny to see the reaction of the hair stylist when I said I want to completely get rid of the hair on my head.... 'but WHY!!?' and I could not stop laughing at his reaction. My classmate who accompanied me was also excited...

So why did I do it? I have tried to honestly mention all the reasons here :)

1. Few years back, on a visit to a temple in Karnataka, I had seen a rather young and much in love India couple who both had shaved heads. It fascinated me. The lady was looking rather radiant and beautiful in her bald avatar.I decided I would also get it done at least once in my life.

2. Reading about what shaving of the hair signified, I realised that beauty  and vanity of a woman is also associated with her hair. All the poems and songs about the thick, dark, luscious hair of a beautiful ladylove that I am sure all of us (at least Indians) have heard more than just once. How obsessed are with our hair? It defines our personality, makes us worried and concerned (hair fall!!!!), makes us spend time and money on taking care of its looks ( Oiling, styling). What it would be not to have to worry about that for a few months? How would I feel?

3. I do not consider myself religious but rather spiritual. I believe that your sense of self and also ego is to a great extent related to your outward appearance of which hair also is a major part. Thus shaving of the hair for me also signifies a type cleansing,a kind of letting go of that attachment to myself and my outward appearance. 

And how did I feel when my hair was being shaved off?

A strange sense of non attachment. I did not feel any sadness or wistfulness at the fact that my hair was all going. I myself was surprised by that sense of calm within me. The person who shaved my hair was sadder and stated it with these words " You know how much time it would take for your hair to grow to this length now?" (not that my hair was that long and luscious!!)

What did I feel after ?
Lighter, happier and HIGH on my baldness!!! Also a slow change in how I perceive myself, I cannot describe exactly what.... but looking at life from a different lens, with a sense of non attachment, objectivity and greater levels of kindness and love. I did not know that such a small act of mine could make that kind of a change in me.

What were the reactions?

The most important people in my life are my parents and brother and as always they were uber cool with this move of mine. Everyone wanted reasons!! Some people were damn shocked and totally in disagreement and stated so... Most women were actually complementing on my boldness/bravery/ courage/confidence... an angle which I did not think about at all in all the years I have been contemplating shaving off my head. Some people say that I look even better in this style, especially some real good looking men and women ;)

So these were some of the questions that I have been asked by friends, well wishers and complete strangers have wished to get answers to. Thought I would share to get your comments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Story of stories

The story so far,
Made of so many stories
Make me, Me

At the start, of Every story
The confidence of the knowledge
'This is what I want!' or
'I know what I want!'
How funny is that,
Think I now,
At the end of it now

The doubts start
Churning and brewing
Like bouts of acidity
After a heavy Indian meal!
Midway through this happens
The thoughts turn positive,
Like a sudden 'Eno On' effect,
Quells the discomfort for the time.

Finally stifled and strained
The bonds break
A permanent Cure, I wish to find
Shackles to be broken,
Pulled down again and again
Breaking down walls, bridges and dams
I run
Swearing, Never again, never again!
Alas, if I only knew!

This is the story of all stories,
The formula which is common throughout,
Yet it happens again and again....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

GDP measures everything “...except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Our Gross National Product...counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities..., and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. 
Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Robert F. Kennedy, speech at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

This is even more relevant in the context of developing countries like India, where leading politicians still talk about maintaining the rate of growth of GDP or even increasing. In the context of the diversity of cultures, values, deprivation that exists in this country... we need to look at development with a different lens...I do not have answers here but questions questions questions!!

Really what does development mean to us?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And that's how i boarded the train home...

After  about 2 months of internship and all the uncertainty I could not wait to get back home... if only I could snap my fingers and land up at the doorsteps of my parents  and not go through the agony of travelling in a dirty train (the AC compartment was pathetic, I can only dread the condition in the sleeper bogies!). The only hitch was that my tickets were yet not confirmed! Two tickets were booked in two different trains and both were on the waiting list till about 10:30 am and my train left from Panvel at 12:30 pm. 

After that it was a mad rush to catch the local to Panvel... which fortunately was not jam-packed due to the time. As my luck would have it, the local came in by 11:10 and was running dead slow and stopping after almost every station.

As the train enters Panvel, what do I see? My train to Kochi was also entering the station on the opposite platform at the same time... my heart was in my mouth!! I did not want to miss that train...It was on the last platform and I would have to hurry like hell if I was to make it within the five minutes scheduled stop time.

I ran... ran like crazy! With my suitcase and bags... people were staring at me as if I am mad! I ran up the stairs (yes.. up the stairs!!!) and down...and finally got into my compartment and was getting settled into my allotted seat! Then I reach for my mobile in the front pocket of my jeans...its not there!! I was shocked... searched all my other pockets, my laptop bag...then it clicked must have fallen down while I was dashing to board the train. What I do next is crazy... I run back the same way I came all the way to the platform.. looking for my mobile...but to no avail... I run back the whole distance looking around for my fallen mobile... it was of no use... who would let an abandoned expensive mobile lie on the floor for long.. So then I run back, dejected...

Sitting on my seat thinking what to do now... how to call my parents and confirm that I have boarded my train safely...all the numbers lost... and more than that my 'kaala Jamun'!! Not even in my dreams would I be able to buy such a mobile at least for another year!! Oh God!!

Thats when I hear it...

'One two three four! Uno-do-tres-quatro... I know you want me....'

I could hear my ringtone, but not find where it was coming rang again... I looked around to see if someone was just playing that song... No, it was definitely coming from my luggage.. I rummaged through my bags... it wasn't there...I requested my co passenger to kindly give my number a ring...

And where do you think I found it??

There is a space between the handle of the suitcase ( which can be pulled up and rolled) and the suitcase which has a cloth cover for protection... and it was here that my mobile was lying snuggled in between. I can only wonder how it landed up there when the mobile fell out of my pocket during the dash to board the train...

Anyway so finally I was in the train.. safe and sound... no loss of property either...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The forbidden C-word

"Counselling?!! Counselling is for weirdos... not for me!" 
"We do not have 'problems' that we need to go  for counselling."
Just many of the statements I have heard from various sources but mainly men. I do not get why men (I know only about Indian men!) are averse to the concept of counselling. When you suggest that its not only when you have problems that you opt for counselling, its like trying to talk to a wall. I guess it is like one of those things like 'Men don't cry!' facade that men like to put up. Or it must be the zealousness to provide solutions to all the problems by themselves rather than ask for help... Asking for directions, anyone???

According to European Association for Counselling, counselling may be concerned with addressing and resolving specific problems, making decisions, coping with crisis, improving relationships, developmental issues, promoting and developing personal awareness, working with feelings, thoughts, perceptions and internal or external conflict. The overall aim is to provide clients with opportunities to work in self-defined ways, towards living in more satisfying and resourceful ways as individuals and as members of the broader society.

What is weird about that?  But I have not had the luck to be able to convince a man about  that till now. In this case I have found women to be more open to the concept of counselling.

The reason I actually believe that  counseling  can help is due to personal experience during certain phase of my life where just talking to my parents, friends was not enough. It was helpful to have a professional person who could guide me, someone non judgmental and though a stranger, but trustworthy. Someone who knows you is bound to bring his or her notions about what you are, what is right or wrong for them into the picture and even though may be your well wisher, not exactly able to help you. 

I just hope that this narrow mindedness about counselling doesn't stop them from asking for help if  they need it... and more important not stop people who want to opt for it...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Internship Diary... continued

Visit to Wani Block of Yavatmal District

I have never been to a village like Borgaon before. This was the first time for me. Borgaon is a small village near Wani with about 260 families living here. I got the opportunity to spend time in this village to observe the Gram Panchayat Micro Planning process which was being done an enthusiastic team of young resource persons and field coordinators. This was the first time village experience since the gram panchayats in Kerala where I come from are very different from those in the rest of India. The household survey was being carried out and I accompanied the resource persons while they conducted household surveys. This was an enriching experience in terms of the understanding of the kind of living situation of the households, their education levels, livelihood issues etc. Also I could draw parallels from the survey we had conducted in the koliwadas in Mumbai and understand the contrast and compare with kind of input that was obtained.

What struck me while roaming around the village was the lack of sewage lined and the way the waste water was just let out into the common galis and not even a dug and directed outside. This reflected the utter lack of awareness regarding the health problems that could result out of this neglect. Water scarcity was another issue here. There was also no provision of toilets and the villagers all were used to open defecation which is again an critical health hazard. There was some input from the villagers that when there is no water for daily needs then there is no point in building toilets which would increase consumption of water! Even those household which had toilets.

One of the most memorable events was the Kishori Baithak which was attended by about 30 teenage girls. An ice breaker called Bhasmasur was a runaway success with the girls. This was followed by a story told by the field coordinator which spoke about child marriage and lack of education and the consequences of the same. The Kishori Baithak was a very interesting session with lots of fun and information being parted to the girls about everything ranging from importance of education in the life of a girl, career, marriage and health. In addition we were able to get information about problems of school dropout, lack of uniforms, improper midday meals.

Another interesting event during this process was the Mahila Gram Sabha. Through various sources in the village we had come to know that this was the first gram sabha in last ten years. We were initially apprehensive about the participation of the women, we felt that many wouldn't turn up. But it was heartening to see more than 40 women turn up. In addition there were many young and old men who were curious to know what was happening. The presence of the gram sewak and sarpanch also made the people realise that this was a serious harbinger of change. This process went quite smoothly with discussion of village development and action plan. Also various concerns and issues were brought to the forefront.

Talk on Energy Access in India

I had the opportunity to attend a talk on Energy Access in India organised by Acumen Fund at this really nice place at Kalaghoda, Mumbai last weekend.I was excited to attend this event because I thought it would talk taken to improve the same. about the current situation of energy accessibility in India and what kind of steps can be. This talk began with a video on a village called Jagankote in Karnataka where Orb Energy has been successful with its product called 'Plug and Play Solar Power' which is targeted at communities where there is no electrification. The founder and CEO of Orb Energy is  Damian Miller, a doctorate from Cambridge University in solar technology , has been in India since the mid 1990s working in the field.  Orb energy provides reliable solar energy based power to rural areas helping them shift from kerosene based lighting.

Mr Kartik from Acumen Fund spoke about how the focus of their company was the Bottom of the Pyramid, and to move the customers from up the energy ladder through product based solutions to services and infrastructure based solutions. This would not only be 'cleaner' and more efficient but would also mean less cost to the rural customers. Thus this would mean moving from kerosene, wood to solar energy based  domestic solutions to community off grid systems and finally integrating with the grid connections, access to LPG etc. According to him the key drivers here would be customer education and access to finances in order to achieve a smooth transition.

The talk by Damian was about how Orb has been able to achieve success in providing solar energy based power solutions to the rural poor. He basically was working with Shell when they were working into solar energy solutions in the 1990s. According to him, the need for solar energy and similar power solutions has always been there but there was lack of availability and finance to convert that need into a demand. But the situation is better now when there are lot of such opportunities available. Thus the future of such initiatives is better now. What is required is technology innovations which would help the practical implementation and scaling up of such initiatives and that is where organisation like Acumen Fund help through funding for research and development and more.

This short session was followed by question answer session which I did not find much interesting. I understood this session as more an informative session on the business model of Orb Energy and what makes it successful. Whether solar lighting can be scaled up to community off grid systems which would improve the standard of living in villages is a question I am more interested in. In addition, how sustainable such systems would be in the long run? 

Monday, April 9, 2012

A bit of dirty linen needs to be cleaned

I have a problem with a certain person and I have been contemplating whether it would be appropriate to write about this at all. It has been some time since this incident, but it has been eating me up that someone could get away with bad mouthing and bitching about me in a way that is so disgraceful and lowly. Neither can I still accept that someone can be so vicious and two faced. I need to vent out and do something about it... So here it goes!

I came to this institute with great expectations both from the institution and its people. One of the expectations  was to forge lasting friendship. I did also know that most of the student here would be younger than me and mostly fresh graduates. Never thought that it would be a problem. Also I believed that I could more or less understand a person and his or her character in a span of time.

All of this was proved wrong! Somewhere I made a mistake... I trusted the devil herself. And I expected some other lesser demons to actually be there for me during the hard times.  But anyway, the demons are being ignored right now

The first devil is responsible for a depression lasting for more than a month and had it been not for  few really close friends of mine would have been difficult for me to put myself together. The lady in question made my life hell after becoming close to me. All the sweet talk,  sharing, going out places was replaced with banging doors, heavy silence, seclusion, bitching ( dirty lies) about me to her parents, to others( whom she used to  'hate' before!) in my presence!I wasn't entitled to even human considerations. Initially I thought I have done something really wrong (unintentionally) which is causing this kind of a out-lash, so I tried to talk to her and find out what exactly is the problem. But each time her response was more confusing and bewildering than anything.  The situation was thus that there was no way I could avoid her and this made me lose my cool and also affected my academic performance. It was definitely my fault that I allowed this person to get to me in this way. The  I cringe to think that what would be state when such a person gets into an organisation or a serious relationship! God also kind of let me get hurt, I guess to understand that I have a long way to go before I can actually unravel the twisted intricacies of certain human (devilish?) minds. Finally the ordeal ended for me. 

I never bothered with that person after that, just thankful that I am finally with people are genuine and who really care for me. The kind of damage her loose tongue had done was revealed to me only recently, which is making me furious within but also pity people like her who are shallow, superficial and fake. I also pity people who do not recognize people like this and get carried away by sweet talking frauds. But it is quite understandable that this artificiality cannot be sustained and true colours are revealed finally.

I hope this devil finally finds redemption which would only happen when she realises her folly (which I doubt!) But I feel a lot better after writing this down. Also I hope you would be careful about trusting someone...always safe that sorry.  It always hurts when someone you trust betrays you, no matter how many times it has happened before. So I wish none of you have to go through what I suffered.

Friday, March 30, 2012


They just rise,
Little drops, one at a time
Like pearls, only not so precious
To anyone, but her

In the mirror,
She hates to look
Oh the horror!
Eyes red, face swollen

Stop, stop
I say to her, they are not worth
These tears of yours
The pain, the hurt

Laugh, smile and let go
There is no time
And no one to come and
Wipe these tears but you

Stand up, be strong
Face the world and make your mark
That alone should suffice, expect no more.

The Internship Diary

I joined an organisation as intern on the 28th this month. It is a government organisation and I am involved in this initiative into block level planning which is being done in Maharashtra. It is going to be challenging especially since the onus of organising and structuring my internship lies on my shoulders!In addition the problem with language! I am not sure how much I would be able to manage it... my mother's surely apprehensive about the whole travelling alone thing.. But today I have decided to keep an open mind about it and move ahead. Its only when you do things which you have never done before that you learn and grow... may I will also pick up a bit of Marathi in the bargain!! 

So the coming week I will be travelling to a district in Maharashtra to observe the process of Micro planning being organised. Excited about actually being able to see a process which aims at bottom up planning which is 'need' based and integrating these into higher level plans. 

I would try to share this journey with you... cause I think that this would be the best way. It would help me unwind and de-stress and at the same time those of you who are interested could also provide me insights and guidance! 

So wish me luck... :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year... even though belated!! :)

Again sorry folks for the big break in blogging!! This habit of mine is bad, stopping communication altogether, but I know my blog is like a faithful companion who is always there (till now at least) when I am in a frame of mind to share my thoughts, experiences etc. 

2011 has been a wonderful year for me. For all the problems and situations faces, for all the challenges overcome, for every action of love and tenderness I thank all those who are a part of my life,with me to support me through thick and thin. Life is never a bed of roses, we all know and there are few who are there for you. They are the real treasures of your life. I just want to express my love towards them today. Please bear with me in case this seems to be irrelevant and mushy to you, but I want to write my first blog with the acknowledgement of the love and affection I have been given.

As always, parents are the first on the list. I am not the best daughter in this world I know and I value your acceptance of me (even with the misgivings you have about my future). Its only with your support and love I have been able to come out of the messy situations I have managed to put myself into. 

Brother dear, for me you are the pillar of support and encouragement. I am proud to be your sister and admire your levelheadedness and maturity even though you are younger. There is a long way to go and I promise to be there for you always as I know you would be for me.

Friends I have many(with acha's postings and all plus my colleges)... but I want to thank you all who do not need to specially mentioned as you know your importance in my life. It is not important how long we have been together but the fact that even though we may be miles apart or even just at a five minutes distance, our friendship remains and will remain. The social worker, the rock star, the psychologist, the intellectual, my favorite kochhachan, Chairman, the lawyer(s) ( :P) are some who I wanna specially mention here cause of their understanding, tolerance (of all the cribbing, bitching and crying!!) and love... I wish that this new year brings to what you desire or at least closer to that perfect state.

This one is specially for all my social networking buddies, readers of my blog and all of you reading this right now. Each of you are important in making me realize the power of the written word, expressing and sharing desires, thoughts, experiences. I look forward to your feedback on what I share ranging from a funny video to a blog post. Thanks for your appreciation, criticisms, sarcasm and for being online!!! :)

I think the list is as endless as is the list of people in my life who make it worth living. I just am happy that you all are a part of my life and make it better in your own ways....

Here's Wishing All of you a Very Happy New... with prosperity and joy till the next year!